I saw her again today. I was walking towards Aldi, just walking out of Laserklinik to have the wound (a wart, said the doctor(s)) on the middle finger on my right hand looked at. "Come back in 4 weeks", the doctor said 5 weeks ago, after applying a big bandage over my liquid-Nitrogen-frozen finger, a bandage that would later turn red as it absorbed blood. Now the wound from that removal hadn't healed completely, so the nice young lady dermatologist told me to come back in another 4 weeks. I had just taken out my electronic organizer to put this date in...
"Hey keep your eyes on the sidewalk when walking!", I heard a shout. I looked up, and there she was, walking towards my direction, smiling, her right hand bonded with the left of her boyfriend's. One and a half meters in front of me. One meter. As we slowly stopped we kept walking past each other, having to turn ourselves around to face each other. Maybe it's a social instinct; if you don't particularly want to talk to a person you just ran into, just keep walking, and stop only when that person is no longer blocking you from your original destination. We both (Or should it be "all three of us"? I didn't even acknowledge the loser's presence) did it.
It all just happened too fast. "Where are you going?" she asked before I even had a chance to put on my fake "I hate you, fuck off." face. "Uhh...", I searched for the name of the supermarket where I was heading to. Later, as I was rationalizing this I realize I don't think in words. When I think I want to shop, I would visualize the place, and me being there doing the shopping. My brain just drives my body automatically to this nameless place that just popped up in my head. "Aldi.", I said after that pause. Did I detect a hint of disbelief in that short moment of seeming hesitation? Did she think I was lying? I don't know. Did she really give a fuck anyway where I was going? Fuck you, you bitch.
Anger sets in, in bouts, long after the seemingly harmless encounter.
"Oh, ok then.", she said. "See ya!", she said.
I stayed silent, mumbling only a bye.
All along the 5 or so seconds as this happened I avoided looking directly at her. Our only eye contact probably lasted less than 0.1 of a second long, as I looked up to see who it was who just spoke out loud. The mind is an amazing thing, it only took that long to realize that it was getting into one of those not-really-uncomfortable-but-preferably-avoided situations.
As I continued on walking, I began to wonder where they were going. The deciseconds pause she gave me after I answered her question was perhaps too long to be comfortable for her. I can't blame her, I've been practicing the art of staying comfortable during uncomfortable silences, staying silent and leaving only the person to whom I did not want to talk uncomfortable. But the pause was too short for me to utter her question back at her. I'm not sure that I would have, anyway.
All along, I had my organizer in my hands, holding it with both of them like it was a game pad; my index fingers supporting it on the bottom, the lower parts of my thumbs holding it so it doesn't tumble over, the top of the thumbs ready to input data. (Using the keyboard. It's not a PDA.) That brief interruption over, I returned to the task at hand and typed "aldi" into the scheduler.